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DOWN TO THE WIRE

GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 0 at San Jose Barracuda 1 SO

March 11, 2017

SAN JOSE, Calif.Jared Coreau turned aside all 31 shots he faced in regulation and overtime to enable the Grand Rapids Griffins to earn a point, but was outdueled thanks to San Jose Barracuda goaltender Troy Grosenick’s 22-save performance in a 1-0 shootout loss on Saturday at the SAP Center at San Jose.
 
In a contest that both sides viewed as a measuring stick, San Jose (35-12-2-4) broke from tradition and allowed the Griffins (38-17-1-3) to start the shootout. Evgeny Svechnikov, John McCarthy and Tyler Bertuzzi all failed to convert before Kevin Labanc worked his way around Coreau’s pokecheck and lifted the puck over a sprawling Grand Rapids netminder to give the hosts a 1-0 lead after two rounds. 
 
Needing to score to keep the game alive, Matt Lorito cashed in when he made a beeline toward the goal and fired a snapshot between Grosenick’s pads. However, the Barracuda answered right back as Danny O’Regan angled to his left before moving back into the slot and sending a shot through the five-hole to give San Jose its 16th win in 19 outings.
 
Chances were scarce in the opening period. The Griffins’ best opportunity came with just over a minute remaining when Colin Campbell centered the puck to Dominic Turgeon in front only to be denied when Grosenick stuck out the left pad and covered up before Campbell could get his stick on the rebound.
 
Despite three opportunities on the man advantage, Grand Rapids registered only four shots on goal in the middle frame. The Griffins gave the Barracuda a scare on the power play near the halfway point when Martin Frk’s pass out of the right corner reached Svechnikov at the left post, but the young Russian could not gain control and test the AHL’s shutout leader.
 
The game continued to open up as both teams went end-to-end throughout the third period. San Jose had a chance to break the scoreless tie when Buddy Robinson took a no-look centering pass and sent a rising shot off that grazed Coreau’s right arm and the crossbar near the six-minute mark. 
 
The visitors responded with pressure of their own, nearly taking advantage of a rare defensive miscue moments later. After Mirco Mueller lost an edge spinning near his own goal, Campbell gained possession and moved in close for a backhanded shot that was fought off by Grosenick, with Turgeon sending the rebound wide of the net.
 
The Griffins started the extra session with Eric Tangradi, Ben Street and Joe Hicketts while San Jose countered with O’Regan, Labanc and Joakim Ryan. Though the Barracuda had a 2-1 edge in shots, Grand Rapids nearly put the game to bed in the opening minute when Street sprang Tangradi for a breakaway attempt, but the latter could not slip the puck between Grosenick’s pads as the contest headed to a skills competition. 
 
Grand Rapids finished 0-for-5 on the man advantage while San Jose failed to capitalize on three opportunities. The Griffins wrap up a seven-game road trip on Sunday against the Stockton Heat with puck drop from Stockton Arena set for 7 p.m. EST.
 
Notes: Frk played in his 200th game in a Grand Rapids uniform on Saturday…The SAP Center at San Jose is the 60th arena and eighth NHL venue the Griffins have played in since the franchise’s inception in 1996.
 
Three Stars: 1. SJ Grosenick (W, 22 saves, SO); 2. SJ O’Regan (shootout-winning goal); 3. GR Coreau (SOL, 31 saves, SO)